The year 2016 come to an end pretty quickly and I can’t believe it. This year went by so fast I am in awe just to think that in just 5 months I will be graduating from my master’s degree.
This year was amazing in terms of traveling (and other things too, of course). I feel so incredibly blessed I had the opportunity to visit all the places I did and spend time with people I love in different places around the world and the U.S.
When January 1st, 2016 kicked in, I was in South America with my parents enjoying some Argentinian beef cuts and shopping around street markets in Uruguay. That week, in the middle of countryside Argentina, as we were having lunch in a shared table with different families I found out I was literally sitting next to another Aggie. To my incredible surprise, this Peruvian Aggie who works in Texas was also enjoying lunch alongside family like I was. It is incredible how small the world is or how big the Aggie network is. The amazing thing is that this student was a graduate student so the connection was very different than my connections with undergraduate Aggies and she definitely understood some of my struggles as a graduate students.
Fast forward a bit into Spring Break. A group of friends and myself ventured into a 14 hour road trip to the mountains in Colorado. The breathtaking views and the amazing company was just everything I needed in that moment. We were also walking by the Garden of The Gods when we saw a group of Old Ags and again my amazement about the Aggie Network and how the Aggies are EVERYWHERE! In this trip we also ventured into New Mexico, and a few other places in Texas. All in all, this was a lot of time sitting in a car, a lot of writing final projects and seeking summer internships, but also a lot of incredible breathtaking views, a lot of walking, a beautiful weather and amazing company.
Here comes the summer! I hopped in a plane and had a 30 hour travel to Qatar in the Middle East to intern with the Texas A&M campus in Qatar. Two months in the Middle East were also everything I needed in that moment to continue to grow as a professional and as a person. Have I mentioned to you how many Aggies I met here? So so many. And so many graduates from my master’s program. During my stay, I met so many undergraduate engineering students from main campus and the Qatar campus that I am extremely happy they are part of my life as we built some nice relationships and ventured to explore Qatar and the UAE together. This trip was everything. I had some of the most amazing food I have ever had and I was able to share these moments with my soul sister’s Erin and Sam who are also young professionals in my field. I can simply just tell you how amazing it was to lay by the hot sand sight seeing the Persian Gulf, looking to my right and seeing the sun in full blast and looking to my left and seeing the biggest and most beautiful full moon ever. Both out and about at the same time giving me the most beautiful view I have seen thus far.
Well it was time to come back home. I spent the rest of my summer in Mexico with my family and friends and simply enjoying the beauty of resting, being home, and eating authentic Mexican food. Fast forward a little bit to a week before I started the real world again as I flew to New Orleans to visit my friend Betty and really ventured and enjoyed all cultural and historical aspects of New Orleans. What an amazing time to go and reunite with an old friend, meet new friends, and explore a state I had never been in.
This year was challenging in terms of my academic program and things keep getting more difficult as time progresses (nothing I can’t handle though). What I am most excited about sharing with you is that despite the challenges presented in graduate school, I have a great network of friends and a loving family who pushed me to travel in Texas as well as to take the opportunities to travel abroad.
While I had plenty of summer time during 2016 as I was in South America and it was summer, as I was in Texas and there is almost no winter, and as I ventured into the Middle East where the temperatures are out of this world. I can say I am maybe --somewhat-- happy I will get to experience winter this year as I travel Canada to ring in the new year with my brother and cousin in a place I have never been but close to loved ones.
Traveling is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I am excited for what adventures 2017 will bring but also about how many other members of the Aggie network I will meet as I continue my adventures around the world.
Thanks and Gig’Em from all over the globe!
Mara Schaffler | Educational Administration and Human Resources Development
is a second year in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program within the College of Education and Human Development.